Most Zimbabwean banks have stopped online payments and cash withdrawals outside Zimbabwean borders with the exception of Standard Chartered, as the bond note backing system begins to crumble, rendering our bank balances nothing but useless Zim dollars due to lack of actual USD backing in Nostro Account.
#MondayBlues early this year had hinted that the new bond note system was nothing much but a cover up for digital currency printed by the Reserve bank, with Proof that Zimbabwe was not transacting in the purported USD currency, but mere Zimbabwe Dollar ZWD which was forcibly valued at 1:1.
The Zimbabwean banks which got their nostro accounts controlled by Reserve bank can no longer accept the “fake” bond notes currency transactions, giving up on clients pressure by immediately terminating foreign currency transaction which do not have the “actual” USD backing.
Barclays was the latest victim of the situation, while other local commercial banks like FBC clearly state that they will only transact if one deposits actual USD into the account, it boggles the mind why the RBZ insists on telling Zimbabweans that the bank balance is actual USD based, when they have failed to back it.
The reserve bank was not honest with Zimbabweans , alluding the cash crisis as nothing more but mere lack of hard cash, while today the same digital currency they printed can no longer be accepted outside Zimbabwe, hence the bank limits and cut offs.
If we only had a hard cash crisis, surely all banks should be processing Telegraphic Transfer (TTs) , Online Payments and any Zimbabwean outside the border should be given unlimited access to the cross rated value of one’s bank account balance.
What the RBZ should have continued to do is to support the nostro account as and when Zimbabweans wanted to move their money beyond the borders since the bond notes are reportedly supported by Afreximbank USD value.
This move could have been sustainable as the bondnote could be used as “barter trade” locally, while one has access to real currency in the event of an international payment.
However the reserve bank instead introduced a priority list system which has bottlenecked transactions for most companies as they seek to make international payments for services. The priority list only favours basic commodities for critical payments, rejecting or stalling other business transactions.
The reserve bank Governor however recently announced a fresh cash injection of $600million into the system admitting that our local RTGS system is fed with unsubstantiated figures driven by treasury Bills and quasi government projects which can not be supported by any nostro account hence the black market is now coming up as the only source to support the Zim dollars in our bank accounts.
In his statement the governor of RBZ admitted to the crisis of the RTGS imbalance without explaining the root cause and on how we ended up having a higher local RTGS bank balance than the actual nostro bank balance.
“The solution is to increase the foreign currency in supply (nostro). Once you increase foreign currency in supply, you will lessen the rates (premiums) so that is why we are bringing in the $600 million so that those things (premiums) go down. Once we put $50m or $100m those things will go down… next week, we will start drawing down on the facility,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is a small economy, so if you were to look for $1 billion (in nostro funds) against the RTGS balances, all those things (premiums) would go away. If RTGS balances on $1,6 or $1,8 billion that is nothing, it is only that we do not have much access to foreign finance.”
It has been two months since he made the $600million nostro promise but the situation has worsened.
The next real fear is what will Zimbabweans do with money stuck in local bank currency when one needs to do business outside the border, the black market is likely to raise the premiums as the RBZ falls short of its mandate to back the currency they introduced amidst national outcry against the move.
If this happens , Zimbabwe will once again in 10years have to dump the large back accounts balance and switch to new real money as it inevitable dawns, our bank balance will be useless zeros, unless the RBZ quickly supported this currency with Nostro backing.